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Melvin Duke - Online Memorial Website

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Melvin Duke
Born in Texas
75 years
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This memorial website was created to remember Melvin Duke who was born in Sourlake Texas on May 9, 1933 and raised in Lamesa Texas. Mel served the Lord with The Navigators for over 40 years as a laborer in the Harvest in obedience to the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20. Mel passed away on October 14, 2008. You will live forever in our memories and hearts.


 Melvin's Memorial Service

Date: 26 November 2008

Location: Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs Colorado in "The Great Hall"

Time: 11:00am-1:00pm

Reception: King James Room immediately following the Service.

Please RSVP by clicking here

No later than 14 Nov 2008



Latest Memories
Bill Cutrer
Hello, many of you do not know me, but my name is Bill Cutrer. I knew Mel and Mary Lou in Okinawa and after getting out of the Marine Corps I moved to Guam with Glenn Jensen to start a ministry at Anderson AFB. God used Mel and his family in my life in an unforgettable way. It has been such a long time since I last spoke to Mel, but I have such fond memories and the pictures brought back many pleasant times on Okinawa and Guam. I love Mel and Mary Lou and all the kids. I am so sad and will miss him very much. He was my friend and counselor so many times and through such turbulence we had in Guam.
I remember all the Sunday afternoons after Chapel of going to the golf course for lunch and so many days I spent at the house eating and fellowshipping.
Thank you Mel for being there for me and loving me just as I was.
Bill Cutrer
Alex Krutov

My dear beloved grandma Mary Lou,


It has been 16 years since we have known each other. It was a special day in my life that I will always treasure. There are many memories we have and I will remember them all. I am grateful to you and grandpa Mel for all that you did for me. I am especially thankful for your love, care, compassion, support and spiritual lessons that you have taught me. I met you before I became a Christian and you have played a major role in my spiritual formation and growth. Your walk and faith in God has always been a role model to me and today I am able to share the gospel with other orphans because of you. Thank you!


It gives me peace that I will get to see grandpa Mel in eternity with our Heavenly Father. He will always be my grandpa because he was the only male on this earth whom I gave a family title.


I send much love to my grandma Mary Lou and hope to see her many more times during my visits to CO.


Love your Russian grandson, Alex

Bob Larzelere

I am ever thankful to the Lord for the privilege of knowing Mel and Mary Lou Duke through the Navs when we were both at Ft. Hood, TX. What impressed me most about Mel and Mary Lou was the quality of their marriage and parenting. They provided the very best model of the oneness the Lord desires to see in marriages and the loving combination of love and limits that children need from parents.


Since my brief personal connection with Mel and Mary Lou, I have continued to be impressed with their commitment in serving the Lord, most recently in St. Petersburg and Estonia. Like Caleb, they never let their age limit their faith in what the Lord could do through them.


I'm sure this is a difficult time for Mary Lou. The greater the oneness in a marriage relationship, the greater the loss when that oneness is broken. Mel will be looking on from heaven asking you to hold tightly onto the other strand of that 3-fold cord that cannot be broken, the Son of God who was also intimately intertwined in the marital oneness that was yours. I don't know the way through the grief or the words to make it easier, but He knows the Way, He is the Way. May His Way continue to be your Way . . . until its great culmination when you are all united together with Him.


One of many beneficiaries of Mel and Mary Lou's lifelong service to the Lord,


Bob Larzelere

Aivis and Sarah Ilsters
We met Mel and Mary Lou while they were living in Estonia - the next country up from us here in Latvia. They had come to develop the Nav ministry there and over the years they spent there we met up from time to time. Mel was great when he came to minister at a youth camp we were leading with the Salvation Army here. He was an encouragement both to the leaders and to the youth and shared some very relevant thoughts.
Mel and Mary Lou also travelled down to see us a few times and we enjoyed spending time relaxing together, talking about our ministries, encouraging one another and praying together. We will remember Mel as a humble man, always ready to share what God was doing in him and ready to help others live closer to God.
We will be thinking and praying for Mary Lou and the family over the coming days.
Jack Jones

My name is Jack Jones.  I am a 66-year-old retired secondary school teacher living in Tyler, Texas. Arleen and I have raised 2 sons, one age 36 and the other age 24.  Arleen and I are involved in the  Nav  businessmen’s  ministry of Ken Wheeler.  We also work in evangelizing and discipling Chinese UTTyler Health Center MD-PhD researchers and Chinese UTTyler graduate students.

I had the privilege of living with Mel and Mary Lou immediately following my 2 year tour of duty at Ft. Hood, Texas. I got a job as a Pepsi Cola distributor and was asked to lead the ministry at III Corps Chapel  at Ft Hood. Mel, Mary Lou and the children made me feel  very welcome and a part of the family. Living in their home became foundational for me in learning family living, Christian discipleship and ministry.  I consider my year with them to be the most important and pivotal event in preparing for my adult life and ministry.

I remember Mel  taking me into the barracks at Ft. Hood and showing me how to share my faith with others.  I was told to sit on the floor as we talked to a young man sitting on his bed.

More personally,  I remember my widowed mother coming to visit at the Duke home. She was deeply moved by the Duke family, and she and I prayed together earnestly  as she prepared for her flight out Killeen. This is my only memory of my mother's praying openly with feeling and intensity.

Latest Condolences
Christene Allspach Niece November 26, 2008
Uncle Mel was a phenominal gentle man.  He will be greatly missed.  I have many wonderful childhood memories that surround him as does Zachary.  I am blessed for having had him in my life.
Don Rosentreter Pastor-Former Estonia Team Member November 25, 2008

><>Dear Mary Lou and Family,


I have been away on the road for 1 & 1/2 months of mission and ministry and have just flown back late this afternoon to my home base here in Midland, Texas.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to be with you and your family, friends, & Nav staff for the service in Glen Eyrie. 


As Mel's memorial service draws near tomorrow, the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-7 come to mind & bring back a golden flood of memories... 


 1 For everything there is a season and a time,
       and a time for every matter under heaven:

 2 a time to be born and a time to die,
       a time to plant and a time to uproot,

 3 ...a time to heal,
       a time to tear down and a time to build,

 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
       a time to mourn and a time to dance,

 5 ...a time to embrace...,

 6 a time to search and a time to give up,
       a time to keep...,

 7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
       a time to be silent and a time to speak...


I will be eternally grateful to our good and gracious Lord Jesus for arranging the time & season for me to serve with Mel and Mary Lou on their Nav team in both Russia & Estonia.  Those were special unforgetable days spent together in a "labor of love" during a mighty move of His Spirit in His harvest fields there.


As a pastor and evangelistic missionary, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what New Testament discipleship & disciple-making was all about...until I joined the Navigators. In July of 1993, the Holy Spirit led me from congregational ministry to serve for 11 years with the CoMission in Bulgaria, Russia, & in new work in Estonia. My mentors & team coaches-Mel, Mary Lou, Max Weighmink, & Ed Tubbs helped this greenhorn from West Texas discover, learn, & apply "real" Scriptural disciplemaking.  


Times in Russia & Estonia were often "very hard, but also very, very good!"  Our time there was made so much better by Mel & Lou's kind, patient, and practical leadership.  They were often Sonbeams of love,joy, & peace shining in a very dark part of the world.  Mel & Lou together always had a wonderful gift of hospitality and T.L.C. for all who visited them in their apartment. 


Besides teaching me how to become a more effecient & disciplined servant of Christ, Mel taught me the finer points of prayer-walking & prayer talking from the Old & New Testament Scriptures.  One of the neatest letters I ever got from Mel shared his memories of when he and I would get together for our special one-on-one prayer sessions outside, come rain, sleet, snow or shine. 


On regular appointed days would get very early at the crack of dawn in Tallinn-(capital of Estonia) and head over to a special part of our town to pray God's blessings and grace for the people on the buses & public transportation, our beloved Allika congregation where we attended, the pastors & lay-leaders of Estonia and the government leaders of the capital and the country. 


We often sensed the presence & power of the Lord's spirit as we labored together in these times of prayer.  We often prayed that the Lord Jesus would give all of us on the Nav team in Estonia open-doors and abiding fruit so that we might be effective servants and instruments of His Word and Spirit.


Ecclesiates also speaks of a time to laugh...I will never forget the time that Mel, Mary Lou and I attended a special team retreat at our favorite retreat conference center called "Roosta Village" on the western coast of Estonia.  This happened in winter during an extended brutal cold spell.  One night, it got down to minus 31 degrees below zero and we had to sleep in our cabin with every bit of warm clothes we had packed just to keep from becoming human popcicles. 


The next day we met in Mel and Lou's cabin.  It was so cold that we had to stop our team meeting every now & then to run inside our sauna just to stay warm.

Mel and Lou even had me take a picture of them in the sauna with their fur hats, parkas, & insulated snow boots on.


When the Estonian young people on the Roosta staff found out what we "strange" Americans were doing to keep warm in the sauna "with all our clothes on"...they laughed themselves to tears.  With frozen smiles we just shuffled off like penguins to the main lodge in front of a big roaring log fire to thaw out & continue our team meeting.


I wish like everything that I could be there at the memorial service to honor Mel with you.  It was not meant to be so...Yet, when I see Mel & Lou in my pictures of Russia and Estonia, I will never forget his "heart as big as Texas and his smile to match! 


In our times of parting, I always told him..."never goodbye Mel, only God bless you 'til we meet again...if not here, there or in the air!"  Because of Jesus, we will see Mel again inside heaven's pearly gates and he will be eagerly awaiting to welcome us home to be with him and the Lord..together forever.


Until we hear from one another, may God continue to "abundantly bless" all the fruits of your labors of love for Him Lou, the Navigators, and all the people in your part of His vineyard.  Love & blessings in Christ, Pastor Don R<><His fisher of men in West Texas & beyond!-Mk. 1:17







Valerie (Flo) Morrison 1993 St. Petersburg team member November 23, 2008

Dear Mary Lou and family,


I have been praying for you ever since I got a call and email from Jenny (Meador) Hicks that Mel had gone to be with Jesus. I have enjoyed reading the comments from so many people on this website.


The Lord is good. His mercy is over all he has made. As I read about how the Lord used Mel and you, Mary Lou, I am encouraged to see God's faithfulness to you. I am thankful for your patient, faithful ministry to a  rag tag team living in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1993. We had lots of challenges that year and the Lord gave you two perseverance to lead us through it. Your labors are not in vain.  "Speaking for all" on the team, thank you.


One memory that stands out to me is the time our team, and Mel particulary, was invited to address the students at Russian Orthodox Seminary. If I'm not mistaken, Mel read from Psalm 93. It's an amazing thing to share the truth of Scripture with those students.  "Thy throne is established from of old; Thou art from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord, ..More than the sounds of many waters, .the Lord on high is mighty."


Love, Valerie Morrison

Joan & Cliff Sluss Life Builders November 22, 2008

We received the news of Mel's death today when we received a letter from the Navigators.  We first met Mel and Mary Lou at the Christian Serviceman's Center while stationed at Bitburg , Germany in 1964.  They had already begun their ministry with the Navigators.  It was my good fortune to have Mary Lou as my discipler.  Her ministry impacted my christian walk in a way that has blessed many others down thru the years.\\


Bob & Betty Lovvorn Fellow Laborer in Christ November 13, 2008
Mel has joined that "...great cloud of witnesses..." mentioned in Hebrews 12.  "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."  Psa 116:15.  We grieve with you over the loss of a friend.  We rejoice with you over Mel entering into the presence of our savior.  We will all meet again.
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